02 May, 2008 Last updated: 27 Jan, 2015

VicHealth today welcomed the Victorian Government’s new action plan to address the State’s growing alcohol problem.

VicHealth today welcomed the Victorian Government’s new action plan to address the State’s growing alcohol problem.

“The last week has seen some of the most significant changes in reducing alcohol harms we’ve seen in decades,” said Todd Harper, VicHealth CEO.

Mr Harper, who has been a member of the State Government’s Advisory Group during its development said, “There’s a range of actions in the plan that will go a long way to reducing the harms of alcohol.

“Putting a freeze on new late night liquor licenses in Port Phillip, Stonnington, Melbourne and Yarra council areas makes good sense considering the amount of harm associated with drinking in and around these outlets,” Mr Harper said.

“One in four (26%) violent assaults in Victoria occurs late on Friday and Saturday nights, which are the peak periods for drinking at these outlets.

“We’ve seen the total number of alcohol outlets in Victoria skyrocket in the last 20 years to more than 19,000, that’s an increase of 280 percent,” he added.

“The new product safety warning for alcohol energy drinks is another important initiative.

“We know that these highly sweetened and highly alcoholic energy drinks are potentially dangerous products, particularly among young people,” Mr Harper said.

Mr Harper today called on the alcohol industry to stop marketing dangerous alcohol products that are designed to appeal to young people.

“The industry now needs to play their part in helping to reduce the dangerous binge drinking we’re seeing, particularly from vulnerable young people.

“These products are packaged, priced and promoted to attract young people,” Mr Harper added.

VicHealth also applauded the State Government’s plan for a major public awareness campaign about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption.

“Research findings released last weekend have revealed that one in four drinkers aged 20-29 do so at risky/high levels at least once a month.

“Hospitalisations in Victoria due to alcohol were 24,714 in 2005/06, and are increasing at a rate of six percent a year,” Mr Harper said.

“For the sake of public health and community safety, the culture of routinely and deliberately getting drunk has to be challenged - the State Government’s plan is an important step in the right direction”.

“These initiatives build on the announcement last week by the Federal Government regarding RTDs.

A suite of actions at all levels of government is the best way to address the issues of alcohol misuse,” he added.